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On Set with Martin Scorsese

By Michael Neelsen StoryFirst collaborator Michael Nie has been one of my best friends for many years, ever since we worked on an independent feature together in Madison, Wisconsin in early 2004. More recently, he has worked on a myriad of major film productions, including Peter Berg’s The Kingdom, Michael Bay’s The Island, Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum, … Continued

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Storytelling Tip: The Principle of “Buts” and “Therefores”

By Michael Neelsen When most of us first start to dabble in storytelling, we fall into the trap of what I’ll call “and then” storytelling. How many copywriters write corporate scripts that are nothing more than a list of talking points, brand promises and market-researched language? “We value the customer, AND we always respect your … Continued

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Our 5 Favorite Ads of Super Bowl XLVIII

by Michael Neelsen The Super Bowl is the biggest brand storytelling day of the year. For one day, all the major brands that live and die with seductive imagery, features & benefits, and data & rhetoric suddenly decide to tell a story. Here are StoryFirst Media’s 5 favorite commercials that aired during the game: #05: … Continued

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Great Brand Stories, Vol. I : Starbucks

By Michael Neelsen Today we will be breaking down a brand story released by Starbucks to promote its new Veranda (blonde) Roast. First, Watch the Video This is a great example of brand storytelling. Let’s take it beat by beat. The Aesthetics The very first image is a high-contrast black-and-white photograph of a hip twentysomething … Continued

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A Brand Storytelling Lesson from the NFL

By Michael Neelsen StoryFirst Media was founded in Wisconsin, and as such, we are Green Bay Packers fans (another clue would be our 2012 award-winning documentary Last Day at Lambeau). This past Sunday, the Packers completed the biggest comeback for a win in their illustrious 94 year history. The game was against the Dallas Cowboys, … Continued

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How Storytelling Creates a Need for Your Data

By Michael Neelsen In 1994, astrophysicist Kip Thorne wrote the book “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy”. The title of the book sounds daunting. One would assume it to be filled with scientific theories and language that would surely alienate any readers without a degree in astronomy or cosmology. So Mr. Thorne opened … Continued

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You Are Your Story’s Hero

By Michael Neelsen Back in 2011 when I was deep in editing for my documentary Last Day at Lambeau, I realized the movie didn’t work and I was mere weeks away from film festival submission deadlines. The movie was about the relationship between sports fans and their heroes through the prism of Brett Favre’s separation … Continued

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Demonstrate. Don’t Explain.

By Michael Neelsen On January 24, 1978, Steven Spielberg was sitting in a writers’ room with George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan. They were hard at work structuring a story about a pseudo grave-robber in the 1930s who searches for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. That story would eventually become the first Indiana Jones film. … Continued

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